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OECD Public Governance Review


The OECD report “Towards a Single Government Approach” (2011) is the most comprehensive and extensive assessment prepared on the governance of Estonia in recent years, which assesses the governance of Estonia as a whole. The report analyses the performance of the central government and the sub-national level.


“Fostering Strategic Capacity Across Governments and Digital Services Across Borders” (2015) is a joint report on public governance and the development of cross-border digital government in Estonia and Finland.


OECD report


The OECD report “Towards a Single Government Approach” recommendations

The OECD report, presented on 18 March 2011, makes specific recommendations in three areas:

  • Implementation of the principles of the Government as a whole

    Estonia has to move towards more unified governance. This requires making the work of the central government and its reorganisation more flexible, improving cooperation between various authorities and focusing more on the joint execution of the Government’s objectives.

  • Developing a common agenda

    Estonia needs to pay more attention to addressing those issues that concern the responsibilities of several ministries and the development of horizontal coordination.
    There is also a need to create opportunities for more integrated functioning of the public service. This requires increasing the flexibility of the Government administration in addressing priority issues, reorganising agencies and managing resources.

    The report also recommends paying more attention to the impact analysis while preparing the decisions.

  • Delivering the public services effectively

    The public services need to be provided in a more comprehensive manner in order to improve their availability throughout the country. The efficiency of the Government work at a regional level has to be increased by re-assessing the county administrative tasks and by integrating administrative regions.
    Ways to improve the quality of public services provided both by the state and the national government as well as to harmonise the quality of the services in the national government have to be found.

    To make the provision of the services offered by the national governments more efficient and improve the quality, the report recommends promoting voluntary cooperation between the national governments even more and paying more attention to the development of comprehensive regional programs.

Action Plan for Implementation of OECD Public Governance Review


An action plan for the implementation of OECD Public Governance Reviews was adopted in 2011. An updated version of the action plan, entitled “Action Plan for building administrative capacity and implementing the recommendations of OECD Public Governance Reviews”, was approved by the Government Decision on 15 December 2014.

The Action Plan also serves as a strategic policy framework that sets out objectives and indicators for using EU funds to build administrative capacity.

The objective of the action plan is to increase the Government’s capacity to solve long-term and cross-cutting issues.  

The action plan sets out three indicator objectives:

  • more efficient governance and reduced administrative burden
  • the proportion of government sector employees in the working age population has not increased
  • the share of government spending in GDP has not grown


Main lines of action

  1. More flexible governance
  2. The funding of cross-cutting programmes and an activity-based budget
  3. Building the capacity for policy-making
  4. Using thematic task forces and horizontal networks
  5. Improving the quality of the legal environment and legislative drafting in key areas
  6. Tailoring the government’s human resource policy to demographic trends
  7. Developing the administrative capacity of the staff

A priority of the action plan is to support the broad structural changes that lead to: 

  • improved capacity for policy-making;
  • improved public services;
  • reduced administrative burden for citizens and companies;
  • improved cooperation between participants; 
  • more efficient use of resources.

Preference is given to the actions implemented as a joint effort between different ministries. 


Download the report and agenda


OECD Public Governance Reviews. Estonia. Towards a Single Government Approach (400 p) (7.16 MB)
OECD Public Governance Reviews. Towards a Single Government Approach. Assessment and Recommendations (82 p) (2.19 MB)
Action plan for implementation of OECD Public Governance Review (2011 version) (150.46 KB)
Action plan for Administrative capacity and OECD Public Governance Review (606.38 KB)


Joint report “Fostering Strategic Capacity Across Governments and Digital Services Across Borders” 

In 2013 Estonia, Finland and the OECD initiated project, which resulted in a joint report on public governance and the development of cross-border digital government in Estonia and Finland, recommending that the government's flexibility in its use of resources be improved and the implementation of pilot projects in cross-border services   online  be commenced.
The OECD recommends striving for a more focused government activity, concentrating on three to five strategic goals and extending the rights of the government in the use of organisational, financial and human resources in order to better direct these to the achievement of government priorities.
The report also recommends creating joint program funds to improve the capacity to achieve broad government strategic priorities and to carry out audits on the budget, in order to identify lower priorities or inefficient use of funds in order to redirect the resources to priority areas.
According to the report, the main problem with public governance in both Estonia and Finland lies in the  fragmentation of government and its administration – with regard to goals, organisations and the use of resources.
Both countries must strive to bring down silos in departmental barriers. The OECD recommends that the circumstances hindering horizontal co-operation must first be identified, after which an action plan for the elimination of these institutional barriers can be developed.
The report recommends evaluating the work results of top civil servants not only on the basis of the attainment of the priorities of the ministry but also according to the achievement of the government’s overall priorities. In order to reinforce the impact assessment system the report proposes forming an expert panel to evaluate the quality of impact assessment on major draft legislation. 
In the OECD’s assessment, the preparedness for cross-border digital government services is very high in Estonia, as both the legal and technological frameworks are in place. For the purpose of ICT co-operation with Finland, the report proposes a roadmap for the advancement of cross-border online public services,  including specific pilot projects (e.g. those related to taxes, social security, commercial registers and e-health), the procedure for their implementation and keeping a record of the work done and lessons learned during the joint projects, in order to take the results of the co-operation to scale up good examples and to set an inspiring example for other  EU level countries.
The joint analysis “Fostering Strategic Capacity Across Governments and Digital Services Across Borders” is the first of its kind in OECD history and as such is unique as a joint review of two countries. It is also the first OECD report in the field of digital government applying the OECD Recommendation on Digital Government Strategies to assess policies and governance and to guide on cross-border services development. 
The report follows on earlier OECD analyses on Finland (2010) and Estonia (2011). 
At the meeting of 18 June 2013, Prime Ministers Andrus Ansip and Jyrki Katainen expressed willingness to cooperate in the field of governance. On 11 December in the same year, the Prime Ministers also concluded the world’s first known digitally signed intergovernmental agreement focusing on common development of e-services.

OECD Deputy Secretary-General Mari Kiviniemi at the presentation of the report in Tallinn 27 Feb 2015


Secretary of State Mr Heiki Loot at the presentation of the report in Tallinn 27 Feb 2015


Download the report


OECD Public Governance Reviews: Estonia and Finland. Foestering Strategic Capacity Across Governments and Digital Services Across Borders (264 p) (3.04 MB)
OECD Public Governance Reviews: Estonia and Finland. Fostering Strategic Capacity across Governments and Digital Services across Borders. Assessment and Recommendations. (54 p) (3.41 MB)
OECD Public Governance Reviews: Estonia. Fostering Strategic Capacity across Governments and Digital Services across Borders. Summary of Key Findings (34 p) (3.29 MB)


What is the OECD?

The OECD or the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is a forum of industrially advanced democratic countries with a permanent location in Paris. The OECD currently includes 34 countries.

The aim of the organisation is to contribute to the development of the global economy, as well as to the economic development of the Member States and non-Member States and to the expansion of world trade. The main areas of activity include the collection and analysis of national economic indicators of the Member States and making recommendations so that countries could develop their economic policies more effectively. The OECD is also engaged in the assessment and prevention of the social and environmental problems.

Not to be confused with the OSCE or the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. 

Permanent Representation of Estonia to the OECD




Ivar Hendla

Strategy Unit´s Adviser



 Phone: +372 693 5627


Last updated: 21 December 2018